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The Art of the Argument

April 30, 2005

Many think arguments are a bad thing. I disagree.

I’ve noticed a lot of people get so angry and think it’s a bad thing to argue. Like you’re coming against them directly. They blow up and instantly get offensive. Or if you rebuttle they think it’s all out war. It seems wonderful to me to get around true intelligent people who know that an argument is a good thing. I love to be corrected. I love people to tell me I’m wrong. I’ll listen and hopefully they’ll be able to justify themselves — then I’ll learn something new. Most people don’t though. Coming against a viewpoint they hold is coming against them.

If a person gets angry in an argument it’s many times nothing but pride. They’re often claiming their own infallability. They think they’re an expert and who are you to tell them they’re wrong. There are exceptions though, and sometimes their anger is justified.

A real argument isn’t normally oral. I don’t care what anybody says. I’ve seen people talk about Biblical theology, and science and whatever. Most of these “discussions” to me are worthless. If the argument is involved and complex you’re going to need tons of study and references. I hate those tests of whose memorized what. That’s not real. Those oral arguments where two guys sit in a chair across from each other and go at it isn’t anything but emotion. Also just because someone can’t instantly define something complex to you who doesn’t know anything about the subject doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about. A lot of times you need a lot of background.

Arguments and general oral discussion is an art. The only way it works properly is if you have two people, on the same page, talking on a small sub-section of a single subject and debating it for a long time. These “discussions” can, at times, actually solve things, but mostly they spark ideas. To really solve the problems you’ll have to write it all down and look at every detail. You can’t do that in your head when talking to someone at a restaurant or a living room. You have to write out each word and make sure it’s broken down to the absolutely simple. Think out all options and make sure it all works in all scenarios.

Also, a person should be able to have all notes and an indefinite time to answer the question. Indefinite meaning — long time. Days, weeks, even months, or even years. Depending on the complexity, some issues it’s reasonable to spend a lifetime on.

As for me, I’ve noticed I don’t like talking about anything ‘real’ to most people. If I don’t know anything about the subject, I end up firing off the systematic “What is / Why” method and the expert just gets frustrated. I’d love to meet an expert who would tolerate me doing that, I’d learn SO fast — but that’d require a teacher with serious character. I’m very systematic and unless they’re a philosopher who’s broken the topic down as far as it can go they’re only going to get mad. They always do. They don’t realize I’m only using a systematic method on what they say. Each time I ask a question I’m saying I don’t understand, not that they don’t understand. Of course, they don’t normally give me that priviledge to explain to them that I’m using a system and justify myself. It’s almost a given that if it’s something complex you’re not going to get them to spend enough time with you about the subject. I always learn better with books. I simply avoid all complicated discussion with people. I never get the time to argue properly anyways, and others it seems the same way as well. The oral arguments are never real.

As for experts. I’ve found you get tips and tricks from an expert — don’t expect them to teach you. If you don’t know anything, the best you’ll get from them is best books to read on the subject. Don’t expect more. If they’re really good, they’ll have written their own material. Study and understand all of it, then talk to them about minute details. They’ll love talking about that since that’s probably what they’re working on.

In conclusion, arguments aren’t bad, they’re just rarely done correctly. Also, oral arguments aren’t real.

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